January 7, 2022

What an old edition of Encyclopedia Britannica can tell us about the erasure of trans and queer people

Image taken from 1952 advert for Encyclopædia Britannica (as it was spelled at the time). As you can see the expected customer was white, cis and straight.

In the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1942, queer and trans people are invisible.

I am old enough to remember that owning the complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica was a status symbol – a clear sign that you and your family aspired to a better position in life. 

Truth to be told, it was also an amazing product. Imagine more than 20 large size volumes packed with scholarly articles about everything. As a student I used Britannica extensively to get an introduction to new topics. I loved it.

It is still around, but now as an online service. Given the extensive reach of Wikipedia, however, Britannica does no longer have the position it used to have.

Britannica was originally a 17th century  Scottish invention, but more recent editions are made in London and New York. It has always reflected the interests of an Anglo-Saxon culture. This means that you may use the historical editions as a time machine. You may study the world views of editors and the article authors of the past, and as such get an idea about what they considered culturally acceptable.

When  a  friend of me inherited the complete 1942 version of Britannica, I decided to do an experiment.

November 26, 2021

What is crossdreaming?

What is crossdreaming? A crossdreamer is someone who, to a larger or smaller extent, is driven towards imagining and expressing themselves as another gender.

The narratives about what makes gender variant and transgender people who they are, have often been colored by the thinking of transphobic people. These negative  narratives are also retold because queer and trans people have to respond to such invalidating theories and rhetoric. 

But what if we for once leave the bigots behind and talk about crossdreaming from an independent and positive standpoint?

As I see it gender variance normally reflects some kind of mismatch between a person's assigned gender and experienced gender.  This is often referred to as gender incongruence.

But we have to keep in mind that such incongruence comes in different colors and intensities. Some end up identifying completely with "the other gender" (relative to the one assigned to them by society at birth), while others simple feel the need to express sides of themselves that others try to deny them, because this is not what "real boys" and "real girls" should feel or do. 

September 12, 2021

The Chinese Government Attacks "Sissies", "Feminine Men" and Nonbinary People

Nonbinary and androgynous people assigned male is  be one of the greatest threats to modern civilization, according to the Chinese Communist Party. 

The political fetishization of hypermasculinity is also relevant to the discussion about transgender and nonbinary people, as the new policy reflects the traditionalist fear of gender variance in general, and femininity in those assigned male in particular.

TV stations are banned from showing feminine men and "sissies"

Washington Post reports that on Sept. 2, China’s television regulator banned effeminate men on the screen, saying that broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” using an insulting slang term for transfeminine men — “niang pao,” or literally, “girly guns.”

Associated Press reports that the National Radio and TV Administration fears the influence on Chinese pop stars, who – inspired by South Korean K-Pop singers, Thai models and Japanese movie stars – fail to live up to the masculine ideals of the party.

Chinese boy bands such as TFBoys, Uniq, Super Junior-M, and Exo-M have all been attacked for their use of makeup and feminine or androgynous fashion choices.

September 2, 2021

Women's Health Debunks Transphobic Autogynephilia Theory

"Leading Women's Magazine Finds that Many Non-transgender Women are 'Autogynephiles'! Read all about it!!!"

Well, to be fair, Korin Miller does not say a word about the  "autogynephilia" theory in the recent piece "Here's What It Means To Be Autosexual, According To Experts."

But here's the thing: The "autogynephilia" theory – which says that many trans women  are suffering from some autoerotic perversion where they are attracted to themselves as women (looooong story) – requires that cis women never get turned on by the idea of being sexy.

Because if cis women feel this way, autoerotic fantasies in trans women can be seen as a confirmation of the gender identity and not an invalidation.

Feeling sexy

Sensible people have know for a long time that many cis women may feel sexy and like what they see in the mirror. Autoeroticism is part of human nature. 

But when Dr. Charles Moser pointed out that cis women had such fantasies, the transphobes did everything they could to discredit him.

August 29, 2021

Why are Trans People Trans? (Part 3): Psychoanalysis and the Inversion Model

Thomas Ernest Boulton and Frederick William Park, androphilic female impersonators and crossdressers living in Victorian London (1869). I do not know their real gender identity. Photo colorized by Crossdreamers.

In part 2 of this article  I discussed the most popular ways of explaining what makes trans people trans today. In this final part I will discuss  psychological explanations for transgender identities, as well as the debunked two type model.

The Psychodynamic Model

Sigmund Freud was wrong about most things, but that does not stop him from being the most important psychiatrist of all time. His study of the subconscious helped debunk the quasi-rationalistic idea that what we are consciously aware of is all there is to the psyche. 

These days practically all psychologists and psychiatrists accept the notion that there are parts of our psyche we are not consciously aware of, and that what is hidden there does influence our "ego" (the conscious side of our mind.) 

Indeed, the concept of the unconscious is necessary if you want to make sense of the life journeys of many trans people, as social and cultural oppression makes they hide their transgender side deep down in their own minds, to the point where they can no longer recognize it for what it is. Crossdreaming and gender dysphoria are ways for the mind to bring that side up in the light of day again.

Unfortunately, Freud's thinking did not really help queer and trans people in the long run. His psychoanalysis (which is part of the broader psychodynamic tradition) became instead a tool for oppression. 

August 28, 2021

Why are trans people trans? Part 2 ( A Look at Well Known Narratives)

In part 1 of this article I explained why we need to look into what makes transgender people trans. In this part I discuss some of the most influential theories and explain why I think one of them is better than all the others.

The theories attempting to explain trans identities

 I will focus on the four of the most dominant scientific models found during the last 150 years or so:

  1. The Rainbow Model
  2. The Body Trap Model
  3. The Psychodynamic Model
  4. The Two Type Inversion Model
There is also a wide research field addressing gender roles and gender identities in the social sciences and the humanities. Gender studies have, for instance, contributed greatly to our understanding of gender variance. 

But that tradition is most often based on a given acceptance of transgender identities, and is more interested in explaining the way social systems lead to oppression based on gender. It rarely considers the interplay between biology, culture and psychology, which I suspect is the primary concern of Tailcalled, who invited me to this discussion, so I will not describe it here. 

That sort of thinking has greatly influenced my reading of the science of gender and transgender identities, though.

The Rainbow Model

The dominant model for explaining transgender identities these days is what I will call the Rainbow Model. It is a non-reductionistic model, in the sense that it does not reduce sex and gender to a simplistic biological sex binary or one single factor of origin.

Modern research has uncovered a mind-boggling complexity as regards  the development of biological sex, both as applies to the development of the body (both prenatally and after birth) and the formation of a conscious gender identity.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!

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